Chapter Ten

Chris woke up April 1st with the sun squeezing through the slats on his bedroom window and warming his face. Spring was in the air. A time when the grass turns a healthy green and the trees sprout new life on their branches. A time when primal instincts shift with the seasons, from survival of winter, to love and the serenity of new life. A time when winter bowling leagues are wrapping up their tournaments for the season.

Chris was certainly not looking for a new love in his life this season, but whether due to the seasonal change or basic human instinct or simply time passed, he had begun to feel the loneliness he had recently sentenced himself to. He still didn’t feel ready to patch up his injured friendships and resume his pre-accident life. He was still having the dream. He was overly tired all the time. He still didn’t feel like dealing with people. But he was beginning to feel very lonely.

This morning as he showered, he found his mind wandering away from his dream without effort for the first time since it had begun six long months earlier. There had been a new elderly man hosting, already well into his fading. He seemed just like so many others now. Not attaching himself to his dream’s hosts, accepting his connection to them, for now anyway, as something beyond his control, Chris had been able to draw another possible reason for this incubus.

Over the past few days, Chris had grown more and more attached to the idea that there might be a medical explanation, unknown to most, possibly even undiscovered yet, but due to his concussion in the accident. He knew that people supposedly only used a small percentage of their brains. Maybe the jolt from the fall had kicked a new portion of his brain into action. Maybe once he learned to use it right, he could save a person or two. Or better yet, maybe it would react like memory loss does sometimes with head injuries and just stop coming any day now as a memory might suddenly return. The latter was his strongest hope.

But learning to accept his current ailment and attaching himself to the idea that it couldn’t possibly last forever, while promising himself if it did last much longer he would see a doctor about it, he had relieved just enough stress to suddenly notice how lonely he had become. Not that he had any solutions in mind, but that was the direction his mind was wandering. He decided if he had someone he could confirm his thoughts with, he’d begin to feel better. Less alone, at any rate. Someone to tell him he wasn’t going crazy. Or that he was. He just felt that maybe a second opinion from someone he trusted would be nice. But who could he trust to believe him about something as unbelievable as this? The detectives who had interviewed him a few months earlier for Officer Worthington obviously hadn’t believed a word of it. They had been sent, of course, merely to decide if they deemed Chris any kind of threat to Benjamin, or society in general. Chris assumed they had sent word back to Benjamin’s dad confirming the factual part of his story, the accident, and that he appeared harmless. He further assumed they must have missed the news of the tornado because of a poker night or an office party, or maybe they just failed to put two and two together, because he hadn’t heard from them after the Worthington family’s demise. Even Mr. Worthington admittedly denied believing a word of Chris’ outlandishly wild story but had heeded the warning, although to no avail, only because it involved his son.

Chris had his usual skimpy breakfast and was entertaining the thought of maybe using some of the insurance settlement for psychiatric help as he cracked open a can of Mountain Dew and sat down in front of his computer. He figured a shrink would listen, but he still probably wouldn’t believe. He tossed the idea aside. Not out. Just aside, for now.

"You’ve Got Mail!" greeted Chris as he connected to his Internet service. He clicked on the icon of a mailbox to retrieve his customary Saturday note of news and good wishes from his mom. Her note was of course there with "Write to me!" in the subject line, as well as another one from a LorettaC with no subject in the space where one usually exists. He remembered that this note had actually come in the night before and had figured it was probably some sort of advertisement as he didn’t recognize the sender’s name. At the time it had arrived, he had been busy reading up on the Timberwolves’ win from the previous night and figured the ad could wait. Ultimately though, he had forgotten about it later and had signed off to start getting ready for work for the night never having opened it. He opened his mom’s note first.

After reading and responding to his mother, he opened up the one from LorettaC. The only words on the page read:

your fate is in my hands

It was the last thing he expected to see. The furthest thing from his mind. He stared at the six words without reaction, more confused than anything, before soaking in the meaning of the words themselves. Then he remembered the profile he had set up for his screen name back when he had bought the computer and realized this LorettaC person must have stumbled onto it and was commenting on it. Nothing wrong with that, he figured. He had asked the question, after all. But this particular answer certainly wasn’t the one he was looking for.

Before responding to this seemingly bold, if not rude, statement and setting the record straight for LorettaC, Chris looked up the profile for the screen name using the available method to do so to possibly get a better idea of who he was about to berate for their comment.

Member Name: LorettaC
Location: Minnesota
Birth Date: every year
Marital Status: very married
Hobbies: mom, AOL, fantasizing
Personal Quote: HELP!!!

Chris saw nothing objectionable or perverse or weird. She looked like your average overworked mom according to her profile. This fact made him even more curious for the reasoning behind her slant on his quote.

Seeing that she also used the AOL Internet service, he added her to his buddy list to see if she might happen to be online at that moment. To his surprise, she was. He then double clicked on her screen name from his buddy list and brought up the IM system giving him a chance to question her motives person to person, rather than email to email.

F8meNOT: So what makes you think you control my fate?

Then after a thirty second wait that felt much longer;

LorettaC: oh hi! I was just responding to the
question in your profile
F8meNOT: yes, I assumed that much, but my above
question remains the same
LorettaC: well I didn’t say I controlled YOUR fate,
I said I controlled my own…I wrote…My
fate is in my hands
F8meNOT: Well I probably would have agreed with
you if that was what your note said, but I
have it right here hot off the press and it
most definitely says that you control mine
LorettaC: I could have sworn I wrote it the other
way…oh well, consider it corrected now
LorettaC: however…
LorettaC: if you think about it…
F8meNOT: think about what?
LorettaC: what I apparently wrote wasn’t that far
off, was it? I mean, if I hadn’t sent the
message then you wouldn’t be talking to
me right now. So if fate was that we
should meet, then I did indeed just
control your fate, in that sense
F8meNOT: that is assuming, of course, that fate even
exists and I am of the strong belief that it
does not
LorettaC: I tend to believe the same, but then is it
really any harder to believe in than God?
Or the Devil?
F8meNOT: I don’t believe in those two either
LorettaC: well I am certainly a believer in God, or
at least in some kind of supreme being
that created us in his own image and
watches over us to some extent. God is as
good a name for Him as any, but I’m not
so sure about the rest. Anyway this is
kinda heavy shit to be talking about for
our first date, don’t you think?
F8meNOT: I see by your profile that you are married.
What would your husband think if he
catches us?
LorettaC: fuck him
F8meNOT: somehow I doubt that would be his desire
LorettaC: HA! Nonono…I mean…you know what I
F8meNOT: marriage on the rocks? Not that it’s any
of my business
LorettaC: you’re right, it’s not, but yes, I am
beginning to think it is, definitely been on
the rocks lately…you ever been married?
F8meNOT: sorry to hear that…no, I haven’t
LorettaC: don’t…hee…it’s not all it’s cracked up to
F8meNOT: well, unless you find the right person…
LorettaC: maybe, but then who’s to say they will
STAY the right person
F8meNOT: the chance you take, I guess
LorettaC: I suppose you are right, but I did say that
I controlled my own fate, or meant to
anyway and I do believe that, so why
can’t I change my life…my fate
F8meNOT: I’ve been asking myself the same
question, believe me
LorettaC: hey…shit! I hear ‘Rocky’ coming home
now, time to sign off…can we chat some
more sometime?
F8meNOT: I don’t see why not
LorettaC: good deal, I could use a new friend…you
want to be my new internet friend? Or
am I being too forward?
F8meNOT: I don’t see why not
LorettaC: COOL!! gotta fly…laters

With that Chris saw her name on his buddy list blink out before he had a chance to type in his ‘good-bye.’

"Well, that was interesting," he said aloud to himself with a smile. A pleasant distraction from his daily boring routine. An Internet friend. He had heard of people meeting over the Internet, but until now, he hadn’t actually spoken with anyone on the Internet that he hadn’t already met through the more traditional methods of jobs or mutual friends. But the more he thought about LorettaC’s final question, the more he liked the idea. An Internet friend.

I don’t see why not, he thought to himself as he cybered over to The Simpson’s web site to see what tomorrow evening’s new episode was going to be about. And then added sarcastically, out loud to himself, "maybe it’s fate."

* * * * *

Chapter Eleven


Front Desk

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As Fate Would Have It

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen
Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen
Chapter Twenty
Chapter Twenty-One
Chapter Twenty-Two
Chapter Twenty-Three
Chapter Tweny-Four
Chapter Twenty-Five
Chapter Twenty-Six
Chapter Twenty-Seven
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Chapter Twenty-Nine
Chapter Thirty
Chapter Thirty-One
Chapter Thirty-Two
Chapter Thirty-Three
Chapter Thirty-Four
Chapter Thirty-Five
Chapter Thirty-Six
Chapter Thirty-Seven